Thursday, September 8, 2016
It was 50 years ago today - by coincidence, also a Thursday - on September 8, 1966 , that the first episode of Star Trek, called "The Man Trap", was broadcast to an audience in the United States at 8:30 pm on the NBC television network. Two days earlier, on Tuesday, September 6th, the series had first aired in Canada on the CTV network. Of course, while the cast and the production crew were busy working on what seemed to many of them to be just another television job, (and, indeed, this supposedly low ratings sci-fi show would be cancelled after only three seasons on the air); they never realized at the time what a major worldwide phenomenon the series would become.
Star Trek : The Original Series was truly unlike any other television program of its era. It featured a multiracial and multinational cast working together as equals, and spoke of a positive and hopeful future for mankind, with heroic figures that embraced the most noble characteristics of humanity boldly exploring the vast reaches of outer space hundreds of years in the future. With state-of-the-art special effects for its time period, it not only offered exciting, action-packed entertainment that would appeal to all demographics; but also dared to challenge it's audience with intelligent and thought provoking concepts, and used its futuristic surroundings as a platform from which to launch meaningful, social commentary on modern day issues. It spoke to us of the absurdity of racial prejudice, and indeed broke new ground in America with the broadcast of the first interracial kiss on network television. It commented on a wide array of other issues - ranging from war, superweapons, and man versus machine to labor, aging and man versus himself to human sexuality and drug use. And it proposed the philosophy of embracing diversity - known as IDIC (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations) - though, of course, one must also acknowledge that creator Gene Roddenberry was partially motivated by the prospect of selling custom jewelry to TOS fans when he developed the concept.
So, after experiencing a tremendous growth of popularity during its "rebirth" throughout the '70s in broadcast syndication, where it was seen in over 150 domestic markets and 60 countries around the world at that time (and translated into dozens of languages); TOS stands today as the most successful television series ever created. With a 5th live-action spinoff series, Star Trek: Discovery, scheduled to premiere on CBS in January, 2017 before becoming a headline offering of the streaming CBS All Access service, and a 14th feature film recently announced to follow Star Trek: Beyond; the Star Trek universe can truly claim to have inspired the lives of millions (and more likely tens of millions) of fans and is certainly acknowledged to have motivated the development of many technological innovations across the decades. You need not look further than your communicator, errr, ... cell phone to confirm that.
I wish my fellow fans a particularly enjoyable day as they, hopefully, find time to celebrate Star Trek's historic 50th anniversary this evening. I plan to rewatch "The Man Trap" starting at 8:30pm! (Though younger fans could easily enjoy any one of their favorite 727 existing episodes from across the franchise - including TOS, TNG, DS9, Voyager and Enterprise; not to mention the motion pictures!) To honor "The Man Trap", presented below are some behind-the-scenes photos from the making of that historic premiere episode!
Posted by Gerald Gurian at 8:11:00 AM